Moses summoned by God. — V.1. And he said unto Moses, Come up unto the Lord, thou and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off. The emphatic position of the word “Moses” in the Hebrew text shows that this command was given to Moses directly, not addressed to the people, as the Ten Commandments had been. Nadab and Abihu were sons of Aaron, and the seventy elders represented the people. In drawing near to the Lord these men were commanded to bow down, to worship, but only from a distance, Moses alone, as the prophet of Jehovah, being permitted to go to the top of the mountain. V.2. And Moses alone shall come near the Lord; but they shall not come nigh; neither shall the people go up with him. Both Aaron and his sons, representing the priests, and the seventy elders, the government representatives of the popular assembly, were excluded from the intimate privileges of the prophet of the Lord. V.3. And Moses, who had been in the darkness at the foot of the mountain, at some distance from the people, came and told the people all the words of the Lord, and all the judgments, all the ordinances recorded in the preceding chapters; and all the people answered with one voice and said, All the words which the Lord hath said will we do. Under the influence of the awe-inspiring manifestation of Jehovah which they had witnessed they voiced their unanimous consent, their unconditional agreement. V.4. And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord, he recorded all the laws and ordinances which had been given till now, that none might be overlooked or forgotten, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. The altar indicated the presence of Jehovah, while the twelve pillars symbolized the twelve tribes of Israel, representing their presence. V.5. And he sent young men of the children of Israel, chiefly because they possessed the necessary strength and agility to perform the work quickly, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the Lord, true offerings of salvation, which symbolized the gracious regard of the Lord for the people of His choice, the union effected by His mercy. V.6. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basins, saving it for a ceremony shortly to be performed; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar, he poured it out before the Lord with one swift movement. V.7. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people, as containing the terms of the covenant on God’s side; it was called out with a loud voice, so all could hear. And they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do and be obedient; having had another opportunity to hear the ordinances, they willingly consented to all the terms. V.8. And Moses took the blood, which had been kept in the basins, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words. The significance of this solemn ceremony was that the people, through the blood of the sacrifice as it was sprinkled upon them, were received into the full fellowship with God, just as the blood poured out at the altar signified the complete surrender of the people to God. But the surrender of the people in general, as they voiced their consent to the Lord’s ordinances, preceded their obedience in particular, the order which is observed to this day. We Christians are brought into true fellowship with God, not by the sacrificial blood of mere animals, but through the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
The elders appear before God; Moses remains. — V.9. Then went up Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, representing the prophetic, the priestly, and the political element of the children of Israel, according to God command, v. 1; v.10. and they saw the God of Israel, who revealed Himself to them in some form which gave them an idea of His divine essence; and there was under His feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, a brilliant formation of sapphire blue, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. It was a vision of the covenant God of Israel, of Him who had first revealed Himself to the patriarchs, in all the beauty of His grace and faithfulness. Thus the fellowship, the alliance, of the children of Israel with the majestic God was perfected. V.11. And upon the nobles of the children of Israel He laid not His hand, the Lord did not harm them, although they, sinful people as they were, stood in the presence of God’s holiness and justice; also they saw God, and did eat and drink, they held a feast in the presence of the vision, thus testifying to the complete and strong fellowship that obtained between them and the Lord of the covenant. It was a foretaste of the precious and wonderful blessings with which the Lord intended to satisfy the souls of His people forever. V.12. And the Lord said unto Moses, Come up to Me into the mount and be there. Moses is here summoned to a private interview and to a long stay on the mountain. And I will give thee tables of stone, and a Law, and commandments which I have written, a codex prepared by the hand of God Himself, that thou mayest teach them. V.13. And Moses rose up and his minister, his servant, Joshua, chap. 17, 9; 32, 17; 33, 11; and Moses went up into the mount of God, to the summit of Sinai. V.14. And he said unto the elders, who were still at the side, or at the foot of the mountain where the glory of the Lord had been revealed to them, Tarry ye here for us until we come again unto you; and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you. If any man have any matters to do, any difficult matter which requires adjustment, let him come unto them; he appointed them as chief magistrates to act during his absence. V.15. And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount, blotting out all the brilliance and clearness which the elders had witnessed. V.16. And the glory of the Lord abode upon Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days, thus increasing the impression of awe which the people felt in consequence of all these marvelous happenings. And the seventh day He called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud, summoning him into His very presence. V.17. And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel. “Into this fiery radiance Moses enters, through the fiery flame of the unapproachable justice of God, through the lightnings of the flaming sword of the cherubim, in order to receive the fiery Law.” (Lange.) V.18. And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount. And Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights. But we are reminded of the fact that our Lord, unless approached in and through Christ, is a consuming fire, Heb. 12, 29.